Postdoc “Unraveling the functional role of zooplankton in contrasting estuarine and coastal ecosystems”

The Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems (department head: prof. dr. Klaas Timmermans) is looking for an excellent, highly motivated scientist with a keen interest in experimental zooplankton ecology and the role of zooplankton in the pelagic food web.

VACANCY ID:         2017-036
CLOSING DATE:    JUNE 26th, 2017



The department of Estuarine and Delta Systems (EDS, NIOZ-Yerseke) aims to understand how the interplay between organisms, hydrodynamics, sediment dynamics and biochemistry shapes the estuarine and delta environment, and how it affects the functioning and resilience of the diverse natural communities living there.

Central to our department is a multidisciplinary approach that combines state-of-art biophysical and biochemical measurements, remote sensing, and manipulative experiments with mathematical and numerical modelling to create in-depth understanding of the processes that control estuarine and delta systems.

An important additional focus in our research is on answering the question how abiotic-biotic interactions can create value for society, following the “Building with Nature” paradigm.



Zooplankton is a key component of the pelagic food web, shunting organic matter of autochthonous and allochthonous origin to higher trophic levels and simultaneously influence the structure of the phytoplankton community. The functional role of zooplankton in the pelagic food web is however critically dependent on the ecosystem setting.

The Delta region of the Netherlands hosts a range of estuarine and coastal systems and represents an excellent environment to study the functional role of zooplankton in contrasting ecosystems.

The Eastern Scheldt is a marine basin with an artificially high grazing pressure on pelagic productivity from extensive aquaculture of mussels and oysters. In contrast, the Western Scheldt is a tidal estuary with a full salinity gradient that is supported by inputs of allochthonous organic matter and autochthonous pelagic and benthic primary production.

Finally, the North Sea is a coastal system that is characterised by an unbalanced supply of nitrogen and phosphorous, resulting in phytoplankton of variable nutritional quality. Within the department Estuarine and Delta Systems, ample knowledge is available on the role of benthic fauna in the functioning of these ecosystems, but since the pelagic food web has not been intensively researched, we still no little about its dynamics.



In this project, we aim to study the functional role of the pelagic food web in estuarine and coastal ecosystems, with emphasis on role of zooplankton therein.

We envision a combination of 1) seasonal monitoring for (zooplankton) species composition, 2) food web structure analysis of the whole pelagic food web using stable isotope compositions and 3) dedicated stable isotope tracer studies in our mesocosms to target presently poorly studied carbon transfers in estuarine and coastal-zone food webs, including the fate of terrestrial inputs and dissolved organic matter.

This ambitious research plan has a strong integrative character, and will be merging several new lines of research within the EDS department. Our multidisciplinary approach will enable our new colleague to benefit from cooperation with several other research activities, including novel monitoring techniques for primary production and biogeochemical modelling.



We are looking for a Postdoc with a keen interest in experimental zooplankton ecology and the role of zooplankton in the pelagic food web. Do you have a PhD degree in the field of marine and estuarine pelagic food webs? Do you have extensive experience in experimental work and experience with stable isotope tracer studies? Do you have good English oral and writing skills? Do you have a cooperative mindset? In that case, we would very much like to know more about you.



We offer you a fulltime position for 2.5 years, a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, year-end bonus and flexible employment conditions. Our labour policies are based on the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centers (WVOI). Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by the Royal NIOZ.

For additional information about this vacancy, please contact dr. Dick van Oevelen or dr. Jacco Kromkamp (senior scientists).

For additional information about the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor).

Please note: job interviews will take place on July the 12th, 2017


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